Barbie – Again
Barbie has made headlines again, this time an interactive Barbie many have labeled “creepy.” This Barbie records children’s voices and uploads them to a cloud server. The doll uses Wi-Fi to listen to what a child says and then gives an appropriate response. Unfortunately the kids are talking not just to Barbie but to a toy conglomerate. Evidently in these conversations, Barbie, by asking questions, gets way too much personal information about the child and the child’s family. Child advocates are urging that Mattel not market this doll, as scheduled for the fall, because the information gathered could be used for advertisers and marketing.
Mattel has attempted to keep sales strong with innovations like the “Career Barbie”, but in the 2014 holiday season, for the first time, Barbie was not at the top of the toy list. She was unseated by Queen Elsa from “Frozen.”
There have been several entries into the doll market attempting to make fashion dolls more representative. For example, in November, 2014, there was the “Lamilly” doll, the new “normal Barbie,’ with scaled measurements of the average 19-year-old body figure. One can purchase a pack of stickers in order to give the doll a scar, acne, moles, scrapes, or bruises. Additionally there are “Queens of Africa” –Black Nigerian dolls, representing three different African tribes, that reflect culture and history. They have the skin color, hair, and facial features of Nigerian girls and may be dressed in traditional wear or western wear . Also available are books to accompany the different dolls.
I am no longer in the market for dolls, but if they came out with a Barbie that could make my morning coffee and do my laundry, I might be interested.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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